Attorneys for former President Donald Trump moved a lawsuit seeking to bar him from running again for the White House from state to federal court in the first step of what promises to be a tangled legal battle that seems ultimately destined for the U.S. Supreme Court.
The liberal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed the initial lawsuit on Wednesday in Colorado state court, arguing a Civil War-era clause prohibiting higher office for those who once swore an oath to the Constitution and then engaged in “insurrection” prevents Trump from running in 2024.
Trump’s attorneys on Thursday moved the case to federal court.
“Plaintiffs’ challenge to Colorado’s ability to place Donald Trump on the presidential ballot depends solely on the Fourteenth Amendment,” they wrote. “Trump’s basis for removal of the state court action is federal question jurisdiction under Section 3 of Fourteenth Amendment.”
CREW’s case is the first of what’s expected to be many challenges filed in various states by the group and Free Speech for People, another liberal nonprofit. Activists in other states have filed lawsuits in which they represent themselves, but legal observers contend the more robust complaints by the nonprofits are more likely to end up at the nation’s highest court, which has never ruled on the clause.
CREW can move to return the case to state court. It has requested a speedy ruling on the issues before Colorado’s Republican primary ballot is finalized on Jan. 5.